House Republicans are punting plans to vote on a housing and transportation government funding bill this week amid concerns from members over costs and Amtrak.
Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) said earlier Thursday that the House would bring up the legislation — which lays out full-year funding for the departments of Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and related agencies — this week.
But those plans were scrapped hours later Thursday afternoon, shortly after Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), who heads the spending subcommittee that crafted the bill, expressed doubts to The Hill about its chances of passage this week.
Asked whether he was confident of it happening, Cole told The Hill on Thursday, “Not yet. We’re still working on it.”
“Some people want to cut more, other people are worried that we cut too much, or they’ve got particular concerns, Amtrak concerns,” Cole said. Not long after his comments, House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.) said on the floor that the House would instead aim to pass the housing and transportation funding bill next week.
The bill is one of the party’s 12 annual government funding bills members hope to have passed by a looming mid-November deadline to prevent a shutdown.
A summary of the bill updated earlier this week set the proposed price tag at little more than $90 billion in discretionary funding, falling more than 8 percent below what President Biden requested in his budget. The subcommittee’s spending level is still a small boost above the previous fiscal year’s allocation, the summary says, which is partly due to efforts aimed at offsetting “plummeting housing receipts” and ensuring “eligible recipients of housing assistance do not lose their assistance due to inflation.”
“In order to address these shortfalls and fund Republican priorities, the bill eliminates several programs and makes deep cuts to others, especially those that received large amounts in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA),” the summary states.
Among the spending reductions outlined in the release include a drop in Amtrak funding of about $1.58 billion below the fiscal 2023 levels.
Rep. Marc Molinaro (R-N.Y.) said earlier Thursday that he had concerns about the proposed funding for Amtrak, describing the potential cuts as “deep.”
“I’m hopeful that just some of my concerns can be addressed. But you know, at this point, I just have some reservations about the bill,” he said.
“The Northeast Amtrak corridor is actually one of the few that actually makes money and secondly is a major artery for commuters throughout the Northeast, but certainly in the Hudson Valley, and upstate New York,” he said. “We know that commuter rail in particular is often subsidized by taxpayer support. I’m all for responsible spending, but these are pretty significant reductions.”
Mychael Schnell contributed.